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I mostly harvest in the fall, but as explained by the Boundary Garlic Farm
With garlic, there are three harvests or crops you can use:
* The first harvest is in early spring, when garlic plants are about a foot tall. You can either cut some greens or pull some complete plants as scallions and use them in your cooking as a source of fresh garlic.
* The second harvest is the scapes. Around mid June, hardneck garlic varieties send up a round stalk or scape. When the scapes curl, snap them off. This enables the plants to put their energy into bulb formation. The scapes are delicious and should not be discarded but used in place of garlic bulbs. They contain loads of garlic oil and have the same health benefits as the bulbs. Scapes can be refrigerated in plastic bags for about 3 months.
* The main harvest is when the underground bulbs are dug, cured and stored for fall and winter use. This is the most critical harvest requiring meticulous care to give you top quality, keeping garlic. Careless harvesting can ruin a fine crop of garlic.
Scapes are absolutely delicious. I gave bunches of them away to members of garden organizations and many reported back that they were pleasantly surprised that they like them and commented on how good they are.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb garlic scapes
3 T fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 C olive oil
Puree chopped scapes and olive oil in a food processor until
smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lime or lemon juice and season to
taste. Serve on bread, crackers or pasta. Salt to taste.
Sautéed Garlic Scapes yields two servings
1 C garlic scapes, excluding the seed pod, cut into 1"-3” lengths
2 T butter or extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a heavy sauté pan over medium to high heat. Add oil or butter
(or a mixture of the two). Add scapes and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Cook, stirring until scapes are bright green and slightly softened.
Salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and witness the evolution of an Organic Kitchen Garden.
If you're growing it for the bulb, the thing to do is wait until your garlic has completed a full years cycle of growth. As you harvest, you replant (not in the same place though mind). Where I live garlic goes dormant in the heat of the summer and in the winter, so it really depends when you plant. The best way is to plant when it is naturally dormant.
In Oregon, we plant in the fall, hopefully before the "monsoons" set in, and harvest in the late summer or fall when the greens start to turn brown. So as BHC said, basically one year worth of growth. As for the scapes, they are an outstanding substitute for the real thing, until the garlic matures.